Seven-year-old 'superhuman' kid has five organs transplanted in one operation
The ten-hour operation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital became necessary after the strain of continuous treatment for his condition became too much for his body
Seven-year-old Jay Crouch is his mother's "superman" after having five organs transplanted in a single procedure. Crouch is one of the youngest patients in the world to undergo the "incredibly rare" procedure, according to medical authorities. The young lad received a liver, two kidneys, a small intestine, and a pancreas from a donor who is younger than him reported Birmingham Mail.
The ten-hour operation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital constituted five organs being removed in one "block", leaving six connections required to attach them to Jay's arteries. As of now, little Jay is learning how to eat and swallow after the grueling operation. He has started with a slice of toast with butter.
When Crouch was just six weeks old, his small intestine had twisted and lost all function. Starting from there, the seven-year-old has been in and out of the hospital all his life. According to reports, Jay's internal organs were damaged to such an extent that he could ingest food only through a tube in his stomach for several years.
Meanwhile, Katie Freestone, Jay's mother, was told by doctors that he would not survive without organ transplants.
Finally, in March, the 28-year-old mother got a call informing her that a suitable donor had been found - another young child who had just died. Katie, who hails from Market Harborough, Leicestershire, was also warned by surgeons that her son would have to face months of painful recovery.
That being said, the young Leicester city fan was discharged from the hospital this week - exactly one month after the life-saving operation was performed. While she endearingly calls Jay as "my little superhuman", Katie says that she constantly thinks about the child whose organs were used for her child.
Having said that, the hospital has not revealed if the donor's family knows that their child had saved another life.
The 28-year-old told the Mirror: “When I got the call, I cried because I knew it was a smaller donor and that’s so sad. You can’t express your gratitude enough towards them. There are not enough words. Without the organs, Jay would not have survived. Saying thank you really doesn’t cover it. We don’t know much about the donor at all. All we know is it was a child smaller than Jay."
“If the parents wanted to meet I would love to meet them. But right now I want to leave them to grieve because they have just lost a child," she added
After little Jay struggled to eat or go to the toilet just days after being born, his mother immediately suspected that there was something seriously wrong with her child. When the toddler fell gravely ill at six weeks only, Katie says her "world fell apart" and the doctors at Kettering General Hospital were perplexed, to say the least.
“He suddenly went floppy and lifeless and was vomiting bile,” said Katie, who is now separated from Jay’s biological father.
“We called the ambulance and got him to hospital. It was terrifying as he was such a tiny baby. Jay at that time was dying. They did all the tests for meningitis but didn’t check for a bowel problem.
“After quite a few hours he ended up having a cardiac arrest and was fighting for his life. It took four hours for him to be stabilized enough to be transferred to the Leicester Royal Infirmary. They still didn’t know what was wrong with him so they did some exploratory surgery and discovered the small intestine had died. He was then placed on parenteral nutrition feeding into his veins, unable to eat or drink. As a complication, he got kidney failure, which has progressed," Katie said.
"The PN feeding also destroyed the liver, so in the summer of 2016, they deemed him poorly enough to go on to the transplant list. We had a wait of 15 months before we got the call. For the bowel, it needed to be a small donor, smaller than Jay, because you have to fit the whole small intestine inside. In the last few months his kidneys were really struggling, so if he didn’t have the transplant when he did we probably would have lost him.”
Doctors stated that the seven-year-old's anatomy now includes two pancreases and four kidneys. Jay will spend the coming months resting at home in order to minimize the risk of infection on his road to recovery.
“He’s off [school] for six months because he’s immunosuppressed,” said Katie. “We are in isolation to make sure he doesn’t pick up anything.”
Speaking of the Mirror’s Change The Law For Life campaign, Katie said: “I really support what the Mirror is doing. Hopefully, the law will finally be changed. It makes sense for it to be an opt-out system.”
Surgeons at Birmingham Children’s Hospital remarked that it has been 20 years since they carried out an operation like Jay's. As they removed his liver, the kidneys, pancreas, liver, and intestine were being removed from the deceased child donor.
The new set of organs were attached to Jay’s aorta in his stomach, giving him a blood supply from the heart. The organs were then attached to the young lad's aorta in his stomach and the small intestine was attached to his bowel.
Transplant surgeon Khalid Sharif said: “There are two connections from the vessels’ points of view. One artery gives the blood to all five organs and one vein takes the blood out of it.
“There are two points to join the intestine and two to join the juice from the new kidneys to the bladder. You need to see all the organs linking up together. If one is not doing it, that’s really heartbreaking, because you do not know what is going on.”
Crouch's grandfather, 58-year-old Tony Freestone is excited to introduce his grandson to delectable recipes. He joked: “I’ve discussed going for a chicken vindaloo at some point, which he is not so keen on.”